Buying In Bulk: It’s Not Just For Food

canned-tomatoes

It’s that time of the year. The harvest is in and my canners are running full tilt as we put the fruits of our labors up to see us through a long, cold winter.

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Homemade Maraschino Cherries: Easy, Delicious, Fun!

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I decided to try out a recipe for homemade Maraschino cherries for my summer beverage and dessert enjoyment. Who knew it was so easy – and soooo delicious? Continue reading

Canning/Freezing Prep Checklist

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America's past, they still work great for today's home canning.

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America’s past, they still work great for today’s home canning.

Summer is almost here, and our garden is ahead of schedule. We’re getting ready to put strawberries and jam in the freezer and harvest season will be here before we know it. Since I always seem to find myself hunting for missing supplies or running to the store for freezer containers while a pile of produce wilts on the counter, I came up with the following checklist to better prepare for canning and freezing this year. Hopefully you will find it useful as well! Continue reading

Simple Tricks to Keep Apples and Pears Fresh In Freezer!

 

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Canning apples is wonderful, but sometimes you just have too many apples to get processed before they start to go bad. That’s when the freezer comes in awfully handy!

Step by Step Guide on How to Freeze Apples

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water
  2. Sprinkle enough table salt in the water to cover the bottom of the bowl (this is done to keep the apples from turning brown while you are cutting the remainder of the apple)
  3. As you cut the apples or pears, drop them into the bowl of salt water
  4. Once bowl is full, strain fruit and drain water out of bowl. 
  5. Place fruit into Ziploc bags or freezer safe containers
  6. Place fruit into freezer

How I learned how to Freeze Apples

One of the great things about freezing apples is that you can thaw them for a pie, toss them with sugar and cinnamon for baked apples, or even save them to can when it’s more convenient.

There’s a trick to freezing apples, though. Do it wrong, and they’ll turn a completely unappetizing shade of brown.

In the past, I’ve tried following the recommendation of soaking apples in a bowl with lemon juice added to prevent the slices from turning brown as I processed them. But that never did really work well for me. They always seemed to turn brown no matter what I did.

Adding citric acid, or Fruit Fresh, can also prevent your chopped fruit from turning.

Ball Fruit Fresh

Fruit Fresh is another thing you can use to keep preserved fruit looking good. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at Lehmans.com.

But I just hate to have to stop and run out to get just one thing.

I’d finally given up on trying to freeze fresh apples and pears, until one day when I happened to meet a woman who taught me her secret. My family had taken a day trip to the mountains, and we stopped at a quaint little Mom & Pop Diner for lunch. As I got my four children seated in the little booth, I smiled at the sweet elderly couple who sat at the table adjacent from us.

My husband was up at the front placing our order when the nice lady leaned over and said, “What beautiful children you have!” I thanked her, of course, and the ice was broken for a conversation to ensue.

I told her we were looking at some property for sale in the area, and she began telling me all about how much she loved the area and about her own home there. She shared that she had fruit trees…My ears perked up when she mentioned her trees, and I asked her if she canned her apples and pears.

She shook her head. “Oh no, I don’t do much canning anymore. I just freeze my fruit now. It’s much easier.” Curious, I asked how she managed to keep her fruit looking nice in the freezer. And to my delight, she shared the trick she’d learned from her mother growing up.

Ball Preserving and Pickling Salt

You can use Ball’s Preserving or Pickling Salt too! Rinse well. At Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Before she starts cutting up her fruit, she gets a large bowl and fills it with ice cold water. Then, she sprinkles enough table salt in the bowl to cover the bottom (she doesn’t ever use any measurements).

As she cuts her apples or pears, she drops the slices into the bowl of salt water to keep them fresh as they wait for the rest of the batch to join them.

When the bowl is full, she strains off the fruit, rinses and drains it well, then packs it into Ziploc bags or freezer-safe containers to be stored in the freezer. I asked her if the fruit ever tastes salty, and she said it never did, you just have to rinse it well.

As I eagerly listened to her explaining her method, I could hardly wait to give it a try myself. Before we headed back home, I found some locally grown apples and pears, and determined to freeze them using her instructions.

And guess what? It worked beautifully!!

Freezer bag of frozen apples

My apples, frozen and gorgeous! It just takes table salt and a good rinse.

I couldn’t have been more excited. My fruit looked just as white and crisp as it did the moment I cut it. And it stayed that way for months, until I was ready to whip up my favorite fruit crisps.

If you’ve ever wondered how to freeze apples and pears… now you know! Like I said, canning fruit is a lovely thing to be able to do, and I highly recommend that everyone learn how.  But when you need a little change of pace, freezing is the way to go!

Editor’s Note: This post was first published in November 2013.

Always wanted to try ___? Start smart with a kit.

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches - enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

Our starter set includes everything you need to make several batches of homemade laundry soap – enough to wash more than 800 loads at less than 7¢ per load.

Contrary to popular opinion, it just isn’t possible to make a living selling some honey, maple syrup and candles at a farm stand. I have to do other things — many, many other things — to avoid leaving home and hearth to pay the bills. I do a fair bit of writing and I teach a lot of workshops. Some have to do with my work with children impacted by abuse, neglect and foster care (my other life) and many are focused on teaching traditional skills like soap making, candle dipping, food preservation and making herbal salves and ointments.

I teach classes on how to do these things the traditional way, but I’m definitely not a purist. In fact, I’m a big fan of beginner’s kits. There are all kinds of kits available for all of the skills mentioned and just about any other you can think of. In fact, I got my start in mastering a lot of skills by purchasing said kits. Continue reading

Manage Your Homestead’s Food Supply Successfully

A LOT of just harvested garlic bulbs!

How do you process all this garlic? Dry some, crush some! Click for more info about Lehman’s super garlic press.

When you grow and raise a lot of food, one of the tricks to making it pay is managing the inventory. That means record keeping, not always my favorite thing but necessary if I am going to avoid waste.

Last month we harvested our garlic and it was phenomenal. I harvested 15o heads. That might seem like a lot but we are garlic lovers and I need enough to eat and to save for seed for next year. The biggest bulbs were pulled out immediately. The temptation is to eat those but that would leave me inferior seed. I put those heads away to plant in this month, and dry the rest to use throughout the year.

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At A Glance: Pressure Canners, Water Bath Canners, Pressure Cookers

10 qt High-Quality Pressure Canner

10 qt High-Quality Pressure Canner

“I need a pressure cooker for canning season.” Here at Lehman’s, we hear that sentence often! And we know what you mean, we really do. You want a pressure canner to put up your produce. Here’s a quick comparison of pressure canners, water bath canners and a look at what a pressure cooker can do for you.

You should be able to click on the photo for a larger, linked image if necessary.

Click here to find out more about Lehman’s high-quality, reliable, gasket-free USA-made Pressure Canners.
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Why Buy It When You Can Grow It?

Bull Nose Bell Pepper Seeds - Sweet

Bull Nose Bell Pepper Seeds – Sweet

There’s all kinds of information out there about eating organic foods, avoiding pesticides, and generally, having a good idea about what you’re eating, and what happened to your food before it gets to you.

Sometimes, the information makes a run to the grocery sound like a trip to a chamber of horrors!

How can you be absolutely sure you’re doing the best for your family?

Grow it yourself. Even now, when June’s only 24 hours away, it’s not too late to get some (organic) plant starts or seeds, and get growing!  Continue reading

American Gardener Tim Takes 2014 Plan from 2013 Garden

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

One of our American Gardeners, Tim, isn’t a stranger to Country Life. He’s the man behind the title “Prepper Dad”, and has shared his common-sense ideas about preparing for emergencies. One of his biggest ‘to-do’ items is growing and preserving his garden’s produce. Last year, he canned and froze hundreds of containers of veggies, fruit and herbs from what he calls “the small garden.” He’s shared some pictures of that project as he prepares for gardening in 2014. “This has been the longest winter in a long time, I’m telling ya,” he says. But he’s readying sprouts and seeds, some of which are the varieties included in the American Gardens project. And he’s looking forward to a bigger garden in 2014.

The garden just after planting peas and lettuce in back left corner, 160 walla walla and texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left, first saturday in april. Strawberry patch in center back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened an broken up by hand with a garden fork. about to spread 3 bales of straw 6-8" deep over whole area but 1/2" deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow

The beginning…
The garden just after planting peas and lettuce starts in back left corner, 160 Walla Walla and Texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left. This is the first Saturday in April 2013.

Strawberry patch in center to right back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened and broken up by hand with a garden fork. Shortly after this photo, I spread 3 bales of straw 6-8″ deep over whole area but only 1/2″ deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow!

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of miracle grow. Used twine from TSC to make trellises for vines to climb. had to cover with bottomless milk jugs twice to save lettuce ftom frost.

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of liquid fertilizer.

Used twine to make trellises for vines to climb. Had to cover lettuce with bottomless milk jugs twice to save the lettuce from frost. It got really cold in April last year, but it’s colder this year! Continue reading

Is “Oven Canning” of Dry Goods a Safe Way to Preserve?

Freezer Storage Container boxes

Airtight freezer containers are equally at home on the pantry shelf. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Have you heard about ‘canning’ dry goods to ensure long-term storage? Today’s piece comes to us from The Ohio State University Extension in nearby Wooster, Ohio, and deals with that very topic. OSUE’s Linnette Goard, Associate Professor/Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, tells us below how to handle long-term storage of staple goods safely.

First, let me say that “oven canning” is not a safe way of preserving our food.  According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “oven canning can be dangerous because the temperature will vary according to the accuracy of oven regulators and circulation of heat. Dry heat is very slow in penetrating into jars of food. Also, jars explode easily in the oven.” Continue reading